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Sender: o-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 96 15:51:00 CST
From: joseph c winter <jwinter@unm.edu>
Subject: The True Story of Thanksgiving
Article: 2211

From: joseph c winter <jwinter@unm.edu>
To: serendipity@pobox.com
Subject: The True Story of Thanksgiving

Ihyannough of Mattakeeet: The True Story of Thanksgiving

By Joseph C. Winter, Wampanoag, 12 December 1996

I know, we&re all tired of thanksgiving stories. But I thought that the following might interest some of you, since it was written by a descendent of Ihyannough, one of the main Wampanoag sachems who welcomed the Pilgrims and who died as a result. For that is the true story of thanksgiving—Miles Standish was a paranoid murderer, John Billington and some of the other Pilgrims were cold-blooded killers, and the rest of the Pilgrims were, at the very least, religious bigots who rejoiced when the Wampanoags were killed by plagues. I&m still going to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family this year, but I&ll be offering thanks that my family survived despite the Pilgrims. The following is from a history that I wrote for the Hyannis (Hyanno-Ihyannough) side of my family.

When the Pilgrims arrived in December of 1620, the local Wampanoags (also known as Pokanokets) controlled all of Cape Cod, the Plymouth region of Massachusetts, and parts of Rhode Island. There were probably 10,000 or more Wampanoags, before many of them were killed off by the devastating epidemics of 1617-1619 that were introduced by early English explorers. In all there may have been over 40,000 Native Americans in New England before the epidemics, in a dozen or so tribes controlled by very competitive sachems (chiefs).

The immediate neighbors of the Pilgrims in southern Massachusetts and on Cape Cod were the Wampanoags (Pokanokets). The Massachusetts lived around Massachusetts Bay to the north, the Narragansetts were to the west in Rhode Island, the Pequots were still farther west along the Thames and Mystic rivers, and even farther west along the coast and up the Connecticut Valley were the Mohegans, Quinnipiacs, Wongunks, Saukiogs, and other tribes. Beyond them, along the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, were the Wappingers and Iroquois.

All of these Indians had loose political organizations based on loyalty to powerful and wealthy sachems. The local Wampanoag sachem near Plymouth was Samoset, while the great sachem of the Wampanoag was Wasamejin (Yellow Feather). The Pilgrims called him Massasoit